Temple-La Salle Preview
Temple's 10-game winning streak has landed the team back in the Top 25, just in time for a double dip into Big 5 action.
The No. 22 Owls could face a tough task protecting their first national ranking of the season and their Atlantic 10 lead Wednesday night when they make the short drive up Broad Street to face La Salle.
"We're in a nice stretch here, but this week is going be a great, great week for us in terms of the challenges of college basketball," said coach Fran Dunphy, whose team has been ranked at some point in three straight seasons.
"Going to La Salle on Wednesday and to St. Joe's on Saturday, two teams that are really good basketball teams and really are going to be ready for us."
Duquesne didn't seem ready for the Owls (21-5, 10-2) this past Saturday, providing little resistance as Temple pulled within one victory of its longest win streak in a dozen years and maintained a half-game lead over Saint Louis in the conference with a 78-59 victory.
The Owls also won 10 in a row two seasons ago but haven't taken 11 straight since a 13-game run during the 1999-2000 campaign.
Temple overwhelmed the Dukes, shooting 57.7 percent even though A-10 leading scorer Ramone Moore was 1 of 6 for three points - his first time in 13 contests with fewer than 17.
Moore, averaging 18.2 points, instead contributed with a season-high eight assists, helping to set up big days for Khalif Wyatt (24 points) and Juan Fernandez (20).
"It says a lot about Ramone," Dunphy said. "I'm not surprised by that. He, number one, cares about his teammates and our team."
Fernandez was 6 of 7 from 3-point range while adding six assists of his own. Wyatt, who is shooting 50.4 percent and averaging 18.9 points in conference play, hit 11 of 17 from the field.
Including Moore, the three veteran guards combine for 46.7 points and 10.4 assists per game.
"These three guys ... they're great together," Dunphy said. "They have understood each other very, very well. I think my job at some point is just shut up and get out of the way.
"I was not ready for us to be where we are right now, but I'm hopeful that we can maintain the level of play that we have."
Temple's win streak started Jan. 18 with its sixth straight victory over La Salle, 76-70 at home. The Owls' high-scoring guards each had at least 12 points, and forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson scored a game-high 19 on 7-of-11 shooting.
Wyatt had 12 points in that game but came up big against the Explorers last season, averaging 18.7 points on 61.3 percent shooting in Temple's three victories.
The Owls, however, might find a bigger challenge at Tom Gola Arena this season. La Salle was 12-0 at home before its most recent game there, a 59-51 loss Feb. 11 to Saint Louis.
The Explorers (18-9, 7-5) bounced back Saturday, winning 72-71 at Massachusetts. Five La Salle players scored at least 15 points, led by Earl Pettis' 18.
Now, La Salle will look to end a 23-game losing streak against ranked opponents, which dates to 2001. The skid includes three losses to Temple, which is 10-2 against the Explorers since Dunphy - a former La Salle player and assistant coach - took over.